Joseph Burite

Tanzania sees 2017 cotton output doubling as price spurs farming

Tanzania may double cotton production to a four-year high next season as stronger prices for the fiber encourage farmers in the world’s fourth-biggest producer of the organic variety to increase cultivation, a government agency said.

Ginning companies are raising the amount they pay farmers to an average of 1,000 shillings ($0.46) per kilogram (2.2 pounds), 25 percent more than they previously received, said Emmanuel Mwangulumba, chief regulatory officer at the Tanzania Cotton Board. While output for the current season will be broadly unchanged from last year’s harvest of 150,000 metric tons because of dry weather, the price increase “will have positive repercussions,” for the following period, he said.

“We expect much of the acreage will be under cotton come the next farming season, which starts in November,” he said Monday in an interview in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, estimating production of as much as 300,000 tons for the 2017 season.

Output in Tanzania, which competes with Zimbabwe as sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest producer, peaked in the 2005-06 season at about 370,000 tons, according to the nation’s Cotton Board. Production was about 352,000 tons as late as 2012-13, before falling to more than half that recently.

At least 300,000 farmers produce the fiber each season, although that can double when the weather is good and prices are more attractive, Mwangulumba said.